© 2017 Elsevier B.V. Although high-energy astrophysical neutrinos were discovered in 2013, their origin is still unknown. Aiming for the identification of an electromagnetic counterpart of a rapidly fading source, we have implemented a realtime analysis framework for the IceCube neutrino observatory. Several analyses selecting neutrinos of astrophysical origin are now operating in realtime at the detector site in Antarctica and are producing alerts for the community to enable rapid follow-up observations. The goal of these observations is to locate the astrophysical objects responsible for these neutrino signals. This paper highlights the infrastructure in place both at the South Pole site and at IceCube facilities in the north that have enabled this fast follow-up program to be implemented. Additionally, this paper presents the first realtime analyses to be activated within this framework, highlights their sensitivities to astrophysical neutrinos and background event rates, and presents an outlook for future discoveries.